MUSV1101 - Music, nature, and climate crisis


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Assignment
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Assignment 100/100

Course content

The American composer John Cage said it best: "music is ecology." But what exactly is the relationship between music and nature? And can we make use of music in new ways to confront life on a warming planet? Our contemporary moment is characterized by an increasing awareness of serious changes in living conditions on the Earth. This same awareness is seeping into the forms of music that surround us today. Composers and artists are using new musical techniques to capture the sound of the current crisis. Can music help us to understand new facets of our society and its ecological trauma? What does the end of the world sound like? And what is the music of its re-building? These are some of the questions we will think through in this course.

In the course readings, we will familiarize ourselves with humanities perspectives on humans, nature, and the environment in the age of climate change. Through a range of music examples, we will explore ecological thinking in the music of different traditions and genres, from Björk and ANOHNI to Toru Takemitsu and John Luther Adams. The main focus of the course will be on music and sound-based art in the contemporary Western world. We will nonetheless take a few important geographical and historical explorations in order to understand where our ideas of music and nature come from - and where they might go in the future.

Learning outcome


Students who complete this course successfully will have:

  • gained knowledge of the social, cultural, and ethical aspects of the environmental crisis
  • deepened their understanding of the cultural and aesthetic frameworks that shape our relationship to nature
  • learned about specific musicians, composers, and sound artists who confront the relationship between humans and the environment in their work


Students who complete this course successfully will have:

  • deepened their ability to interpret and discuss the cultural and musical dimensions of environmental crisis
  • practiced formulating and presenting their knowledge of music and nature in written exercises
  • developed their skills in critical listening and evaluation of musical materials
  • strengthened their cross-disciplinary skills by connecting topics from the environmental humanities to contemporary issues in music and musical culture.

Learning methods and activities

The weekly classes will consist of both lectures and seminar activities, including student discussions and group work.

Students will hand in three written reflections. These are short texts (circa 500 words) where the students will summarize and comment on various topics from the course readings and music examples.

Compulsory assignments

  • Reflection notes

Further on evaluation

The text for the assignment should have a length of circa 4,000-6,000 words.

If the candidate retakes the exam, there is no need to retake the compulsory assignment.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Foundation courses, level I


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2024

Language of instruction: English, Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Musicology
  • Ecology
Contact information
Course coordinator: Lecturer(s):

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music


Examination arrangement: Assignment

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Spring ORD Assignment 100/100





Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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